# Kaolinite

Last updated
Kaolinite
General
Category Phyllosilicates
Kaolinite-serpentine group
Formula
(repeating unit)
Al
2
Si
2
O
5
(OH)
4
Strunz classification 9.ED.05
Crystal system Triclinic
Crystal class Pedial (1)
(same H-M symbol)
Space group P1
Unit cell a = 5.13  Å, b = 8.89 Å
c = 7.25 Å; α = 90°
β = 104.5°, γ = 89.8°; Z = 2
Identification
ColorWhite, sometimes red, blue or brown tints from impurities
Crystal habit Rarely as crystals, thin plates or stacked, More commonly as microscopic pseudohexagonal plates and clusters of plates, aggregated into compact, claylike masses
Cleavage Perfect on {001}
Tenacity Flexible but inelastic
Mohs scale hardness2–2.5
Luster Pearly to dull earthy
Streak White
Specific gravity 2.16–2.68
Optical propertiesBiaxial (–)
Refractive index nα = 1.553–1.565,
nβ = 1.559–1.569,
nγ = 1.569–1.570
2V angle Measured: 24° to 50°, Calculated: 44°
References [1] [2] [3]
Kaolinite
Simplified Chinese 高岭石
Literal meaning"Gaoling stone"

Kaolinite () [4] [5] is a clay mineral, part of the group of industrial minerals with the chemical composition Al 2 Si 2 O 5(OH)4. It is a layered silicate mineral, with one tetrahedral sheet of silica (SiO
4
) linked through oxygen atoms to one octahedral sheet of alumina (AlO
6
) octahedra. [6] Rocks that are rich in kaolinite are known as kaolin or china clay. [7]

Industrial resources (minerals) are geological materials which are mined for their commercial value, which are not fuel and are not sources of metals but are used in the industries based on their physical and/or chemical properties. They are used in their natural state or after beneficiation either as raw materials or as additives in a wide range of applications.

Aluminium is a chemical element with the symbol Al and atomic number 13. It is a silvery-white, soft, non-magnetic and ductile metal in the boron group. By mass, aluminium makes up about 8% of the Earth's crust; it is the third most abundant element after oxygen and silicon and the most abundant metal in the crust, though it is less common in the mantle below. The chief ore of aluminium is bauxite. Aluminium metal is so chemically reactive that native specimens are rare and limited to extreme reducing environments. Instead, it is found combined in over 270 different minerals.

Silicon is a chemical element with the symbol Si and atomic number 14. It is a hard and brittle crystalline solid with a blue-grey metallic lustre; and it is a tetravalent metalloid and semiconductor. It is a member of group 14 in the periodic table: carbon is above it; and germanium, tin, and lead are below it. It is relatively unreactive. Because of its high chemical affinity for oxygen, it was not until 1823 that Jöns Jakob Berzelius was first able to prepare it and characterize it in pure form. Its melting and boiling points of 1414 °C and 3265 °C respectively are the second-highest among all the metalloids and nonmetals, being only surpassed by boron. Silicon is the eighth most common element in the universe by mass, but very rarely occurs as the pure element in the Earth's crust. It is most widely distributed in dusts, sands, planetoids, and planets as various forms of silicon dioxide (silica) or silicates. More than 90% of the Earth's crust is composed of silicate minerals, making silicon the second most abundant element in the Earth's crust after oxygen.

## Contents

The name "kaolin" is derived from "Gaoling" (Chinese :高嶺; pinyin :Gāolǐng; literally: 'High Ridge'), a Chinese village near Jingdezhen in southeastern China's Jiangxi Province. [8] The name entered English in 1727 from the French version of the word: kaolin, following François Xavier d'Entrecolles's reports on the making of Jingdezhen porcelain. [9]

Traditional Chinese characters are Chinese characters in any character set that does not contain newly created characters or character substitutions performed after 1946. They are most commonly the characters in the standardized character sets of Taiwan, of Hong Kong and Macau. The modern shapes of traditional Chinese characters first appeared with the emergence of the clerical script during the Han Dynasty, and have been more or less stable since the 5th century.

Hanyu Pinyin, often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese in mainland China and to some extent in Taiwan. It is often used to teach Standard Mandarin Chinese, which is normally written using Chinese characters. The system includes four diacritics denoting tones. Pinyin without tone marks is used to spell Chinese names and words in languages written with the Latin alphabet, and also in certain computer input methods to enter Chinese characters.

Jingdezhen is a prefecture-level city, previously a town, in northeastern Jiangxi province, China, with a total population of 1,554,000 (2007), bordering Anhui to the north. It is known as the "Porcelain Capital" because it has been producing Chinese ceramics for at least 1,000 years, and for much of that period Jingdezhen porcelain was the most important and finest quality in China. The city has a well-documented history that stretches back over 2,000 years.

Kaolinite has a low shrink–swell capacity and a low cation-exchange capacity (1–15 meq/100 g). It is a soft, earthy, usually white, mineral (dioctahedral phyllosilicate clay), produced by the chemical weathering of aluminium silicate minerals like feldspar. In many parts of the world it is colored pink-orange-red by iron oxide, giving it a distinct rust hue. Lighter concentrations yield white, yellow, or light orange colors. Alternating layers are sometimes found, as at Providence Canyon State Park in Georgia, United States. Commercial grades of kaolin are supplied and transported as dry powder, semi-dry noodle or as liquid slurry.

The shrink–swell index of clay refers to the extent certain clay minerals will expand when wet and retract when dry. Soil with a high shrink–swell capacity is problematic and is known as shrink–swell soil, or expansive soil. The amount of certain clay minerals that are present, such as montmorillonite and smectite, directly affects the shrink-swell capacity of soil. This ability to drastically change volume can cause damage to existing structures, such as cracks in foundations or the walls of swimming pools.

Cation-exchange capacity (CEC) is a measure of how many cations can be retained on soil particle surfaces. Negative charges on the surfaces of soil particles bind positively-charged atoms or molecules (cations), but allow these to exchange with other positively charged particles in the surrounding soil water. This is one of the ways that solid materials in soil alter the chemistry of the soil. CEC affects many aspects of soil chemistry, and is used as a measure of soil fertility, as it indicates the capacity of the soil to retain several nutrients (e.g. K+, NH4+, Ca2+) in plant-available form. It also indicates the capacity to retain pollutant cations (e.g. Pb2+).

Clay is a finely-grained natural rock or soil material that combines one or more clay minerals with possible traces of quartz (SiO2), metal oxides (Al2O3, MgO etc.) and organic matter. Geologic clay deposits are mostly composed of phyllosilicate minerals containing variable amounts of water trapped in the mineral structure. Clays are plastic due to particle size and geometry as well as water content, and become hard, brittle and non–plastic upon drying or firing. Depending on the soil's content in which it is found, clay can appear in various colours from white to dull grey or brown to deep orange-red.

## Chemistry

### Notation

The chemical formula for kaolinite as used in mineralogy is Al
2
Si
2
O
5
(OH)
4
, [3] however, in ceramics applications the formula is typically written in terms of oxides, thus the formula for kaolinite is Al
2
O
3
· 2SiO
2
·2H2O. [10]

A chemical formula is a way of presenting information about the chemical proportions of atoms that constitute a particular chemical compound or molecule, using chemical element symbols, numbers, and sometimes also other symbols, such as parentheses, dashes, brackets, commas and plus (+) and minus (−) signs. These are limited to a single typographic line of symbols, which may include subscripts and superscripts. A chemical formula is not a chemical name, and it contains no words. Although a chemical formula may imply certain simple chemical structures, it is not the same as a full chemical structural formula. Chemical formulas can fully specify the structure of only the simplest of molecules and chemical substances, and are generally more limited in power than are chemical names and structural formulas.

Mineralogy is a subject of geology specializing in the scientific study of the chemistry, crystal structure, and physical properties of minerals and mineralized artifacts. Specific studies within mineralogy include the processes of mineral origin and formation, classification of minerals, their geographical distribution, as well as their utilization.

Ceramic engineering is the science and technology of creating objects from inorganic, non-metallic materials. This is done either by the action of heat, or at lower temperatures using precipitation reactions from high-purity chemical solutions. The term includes the purification of raw materials, the study and production of the chemical compounds concerned, their formation into components and the study of their structure, composition and properties.

### Structural transformations

Kaolinite group clays undergo a series of phase transformations upon thermal treatment in air at atmospheric pressure.

#### Drying

Below 100 °C (212 °F), exposure to dry air will slowly remove liquid water from the kaolin. The end-state for this transformation is referred to as "leather dry". Between 100 °C and about 550 °C (1,022 °F), any remaining liquid water is expelled from kaolinite. The end state for this transformation is referred to as "bone dry". Throughout this temperature range, the expulsion of water is reversible: if the kaolin is exposed to liquid water, it will be reabsorbed and disintegrate into its fine particulate form. Subsequent transformations are not reversible, and represent permanent chemical changes.

#### Metakaolin

Endothermic dehydration of kaolinite begins at 550–600 °C producing disordered metakaolin, but continuous hydroxyl loss is observed up to 900 °C (1,650 °F). [11] Although historically there was much disagreement concerning the nature of the metakaolin phase, extensive research has led to a general consensus that metakaolin is not a simple mixture of amorphous silica (SiO
2
) and alumina (Al
2
O
3
), but rather a complex amorphous structure that retains some longer-range order (but not strictly crystalline) due to stacking of its hexagonal layers. [11]

Metakaolin is the anhydrous calcined form of the clay mineral kaolinite. Minerals that are rich in kaolinite are known as china clay or kaolin, traditionally used in the manufacture of porcelain. The particle size of metakaolin is smaller than cement particles, but not as fine as silica fume.

A quasiperiodic crystal, or quasicrystal, is a structure that is ordered but not periodic. A quasicrystalline pattern can continuously fill all available space, but it lacks translational symmetry. While crystals, according to the classical crystallographic restriction theorem, can possess only two, three, four, and six-fold rotational symmetries, the Bragg diffraction pattern of quasicrystals shows sharp peaks with other symmetry orders, for instance five-fold.

${\displaystyle {\ce {Al2Si2O5(OH)4 -> Al2Si2O7 + 2 H2O}}}$

#### Spinel

Further heating to 925–950 °C converts metakaolin to an aluminium-silicon spinel which is sometimes also referred to as a gamma-alumina type structure:

Spinel is the magnesium aluminium member of the larger spinel group of minerals. It has the formula MgAl2O4 in the cubic crystal system. Its name comes from Latin "spina" (arrow).

${\displaystyle {\ce {2 Al2Si2O7 -> Si3Al4O12 + SiO2}}}$

#### Platelet mullite

Upon calcination above 1050 °C, the spinel phase nucleates and transforms to platelet mullite and highly crystalline cristobalite:

${\displaystyle {\ce {3 Si3Al4O12 -> 2(3 Al2O3. 2 SiO2) + 5 SiO2}}}$

#### Needle mullite

Finally, at 1400 °C the "needle" form of mullite appears, offering substantial increases in structural strength and heat resistance. This is a structural but not chemical transformation. See stoneware for more information on this form.

## Occurrence

Kaolinite is one of the most common minerals; it is mined, as kaolin, in Malaysia, Pakistan, Vietnam, Brazil, Bulgaria, Bangladesh, France, the United Kingdom, Iran, Germany, India, Australia, South Korea, the People's Republic of China, the Czech Republic, Spain, South Africa, and the United States. [1]

Mantles of kaolinitic saprolite are common in Western and Northern Europe. The ages of these mantles are Mesozoic to Early Cenozoic. [12]

Kaolinite clay occurs in abundance in soils that have formed from the chemical weathering of rocks in hot, moist climates—for example in tropical rainforest areas. Comparing soils along a gradient towards progressively cooler or drier climates, the proportion of kaolinite decreases, while the proportion of other clay minerals such as illite (in cooler climates) or smectite (in drier climates) increases. Such climatically-related differences in clay mineral content are often used to infer changes in climates in the geological past, where ancient soils have been buried and preserved. [ citation needed ]

In the Institut National pour l'Etude Agronomique au Congo Belge (INEAC) classification system, soils in which the clay fraction is predominantly kaolinite are called kaolisol (from kaolin and soil). [13]

In the US, the main kaolin deposits are found in central Georgia, on a stretch of the Atlantic Seaboard fall line between Augusta and Macon. This area of thirteen counties is called the "white gold" belt; the small town of Sandersville is known as the "Kaolin Capital of the World" due to its abundance of kaolin. [14] [15] In the late 1800s, an active kaolin surface-mining industry existed in the extreme southeast corner of Pennsylvania, near the towns of Landenberg and Kaolin, and in what is present-day White Clay Creek Preserve. The product was brought by train to Newark, Delaware, on the Newark-Pomeroy line, along which can still be seen many open-pit clay mines. The deposits were formed between the late Cretaceous and early Paleogene, about 100 million to 45 million years ago, in sediments derived from weathered igneous and metakaolin rocks. [8] Kaolin production in the US during 2011 was 5.5 million tons. [16]

During the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum sediments were enriched with kaolinite from a detrital source due to denudation. [17]

## Synthesis and genesis

Difficulties are encountered when trying to explain kaolinite formation under atmospheric conditions by extrapolation of thermodynamic data from the more successful high-temperature syntheses (as for example Meijer and Van der Plas, 1980 [18] have pointed out). La Iglesia and Van Oosterwijk-Gastuche (1978) [19] thought that the conditions under which kaolinite will nucleate can be deduced from stability diagrams based as these are on dissolution data. Because of a lack of convincing results in their own experiments, La Iglesia and Van Oosterwijk-Gastuche (1978) had to conclude, however, that there were other, still unknown, factors involved in the low-temperature nucleation of kaolinite. Because of the observed very slow crystallization rates of kaolinite from solution at room temperature Fripiat and Herbillon (1971) postulated the existence of high activation energies in the low-temperature nucleation of kaolinite.

At high temperatures, equilibrium thermodynamic models appear to be satisfactory for the description of kaolinite dissolution and nucleation, because the thermal energy suffices to overcome the energy barriers involved in the nucleation process. The importance of syntheses at ambient temperature and atmospheric pressure towards the understanding of the mechanism involved in the nucleation of clay minerals lies in overcoming these energy barriers. As indicated by Caillère and Hénin (1960) [20] the processes involved will have to be studied in well-defined experiments, because it is virtually impossible to isolate the factors involved by mere deduction from complex natural physico-chemical systems such as the soil environment. Fripiat and Herbillon (1971), [21] in a review on the formation of kaolinite, raised the fundamental question how a disordered material (i.e., the amorphous fraction of tropical soils) could ever be transformed into a corresponding ordered structure. This transformation seems to take place in soils without major changes in the environment, in a relatively short period of time and at ambient temperature (and pressure).

Low-temperature synthesis of clay minerals (with kaolinite as an example) has several aspects. In the first place the silicic acid to be supplied to the growing crystal must be in a monomeric form, i.e., silica should be present in very dilute solution (Caillère et al., 1957; [22] Caillère and Hénin, 1960; [20] Wey and Siffert, 1962; [23] Millot, 1970 [24] ). In order to prevent the formation of amorphous silica gels precipitating from supersaturated solutions without reacting with the aluminium or magnesium cations to form crystalline silicates, the silicic acid must be present in concentrations below the maximum solubility of amorphous silica. The principle behind this prerequisite can be found in structural chemistry: "Since the polysilicate ions are not of uniform size, they cannot arrange themselves along with the metal ions into a regular crystal lattice" (Iler, 1955, p. 182 [25] ).

The second aspect of the low-temperature synthesis of kaolinite is that the aluminium cations must be hexacoordinated with respect to oxygen (Caillère and Hénin, 1947; [26] Caillère et al., 1953; [27] Hénin and Robichet, 1955 [28] ). Gastuche et al. (1962), [29] as well as Caillère and Hénin (1962) have concluded, that only in those instances when the aluminium hydroxide is in the form of gibbsite, kaolinite can ever be formed. If not, the precipitate formed will be a "mixed alumino-silicic gel" (as Millot, 1970, p. 343 put it). If this were the only requirement, large amounts of kaolinite could be harvested simply by adding gibbsite powder to a silica solution. Undoubtedly a marked degree of sorption of the silica in solution by the gibbsite surfaces will take place, but, as stated before, mere adsorption does not create the layer lattice typical of kaolinite crystals.

The third aspect is that these two initial components must be incorporated into one and the same mixed crystal with a layer structure. From the following equation (as given by Gastuche and DeKimpe, 1962) [30] for kaolinite formation

${\displaystyle {\ce {2Al(OH)3 + 2H4SiO4 -> Si2O5 . 2Al(OH)3 + 5H2O}}}$

it can be seen, that five molecules of water must be removed from the reaction for every molecule of kaolinite formed. Field evidence illustrating the importance of the removal of water from the kaolinite reaction has been supplied by Gastuche and DeKimpe (1962). While studying soil formation on a basaltic rock in Kivu (Zaïre), Gastuche and DeKimpe noted how the occurrence of kaolinite depended on the "degrée de drainage" of the area involved. A clear distinction was found between areas with good drainage (i.e., areas with a marked difference between wet and dry seasons) and those areas with poor drainage (i.e., perennially swampy areas). Only in the areas with distinct seasonal alternations between wet and dry conditions kaolinite was found. The possible significance of alternating wet and dry conditions on the transition of allophane into kaolinite has been stressed by Tamura and Jackson (1953). [31] The role of alternations between wetting and drying on the formation of kaolinite has also been noted by Moore (1964). [32]

### Laboratory syntheses

Syntheses of kaolinite at high temperatures (more than 100 °C [212 °F]) are relatively well known. There are for example the syntheses of Van Nieuwenberg and Pieters (1929); [33] Noll (1934); [34] Noll (1936); [35] Norton (1939); [36] Roy and Osborn (1954); [37] Roy (1961); [38] Hawkins and Roy (1962); [39] Tomura et al. (1985); [40] Satokawa et al. (1994) [41] and Huertas et al. (1999). [42] Relatively few low-temperature syntheses have become known (cf. Brindley and DeKimpe (1961); [43] DeKimpe (1969); [44] Bogatyrev et al. (1997) [45] ).

Laboratory syntheses of kaolinite at room temperature and atmospheric pressure have been described by DeKimpe et al. (1961). [46] From those tests the role of periodicity becomes convincingly clear. For DeKimpe et al. (1961) had used daily additions of alumina (as AlCl
3
· 6 H
2
O) and silica (in the form of ethyl silicate) during at least two months. In addition adjustments of the pH took place every day by way of adding either hydrochloric acid or sodium hydroxide. Such daily additions of Si and Al to the solution in combination with the daily titrations with hydrochloric acid or sodium hydroxide during at least 60 days will have introduced the necessary element of periodicity. Only now the actual role of what has been described as the "aging" (Alterung) of amorphous alumino-silicates (as for example Harder, 1978 [47] had noted) can be fully understood. For time as such is not bringing about any change in a closed system at equilibrium, but a series of alternations, of periodically changing conditions (by definition taking place in an open system), will bring about the low-temperature formation of more and more of the stable phase kaolinite instead of (ill-defined) amorphous alumino-silicates.

## Uses

The main use of the mineral kaolinite (about 50% of the time) is the production of paper; its use ensures the gloss on some grades of coated paper. [48]

Kaolin is also known for its capabilities to induce and accelerate blood clotting. In April 2008 the US Naval Medical Research Institute announced the successful use of a kaolinite-derived aluminosilicate infusion in traditional gauze, known commercially as QuikClot Combat Gauze, [49] which is still the hemostat of choice for all branches of the US military.

Kaolin is used (or was used in the past):

### Geophagy

Humans sometimes eat kaolin for health or to suppress hunger, [55] a practice known as geophagy. Consumption is greater among women, especially during pregnancy. [56] This practice has also been observed within a small population of African-American women in the Southern United States, especially Georgia. [57] [58] There, the kaolin is called white dirt, chalk or white clay. [57]

### Safety

People can be exposed to kaolin in the workplace by breathing in the powder or from skin or eye contact.

#### United States

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set the legal limit (permissible exposure limit) for kaolin exposure in the workplace as 15 mg/m3 total exposure and 5 mg/m3 respiratory exposure over an 8-hour workday. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has set a recommended exposure limit (REL) of 10 mg/m3 total exposure TWA 5 mg/m3 respiratory exposure over an 8-hour workday. [59]

## Related Research Articles

Bauxite is a sedimentary rock with a relatively high aluminium content. It is the world's main source of aluminium. Bauxite consists mostly of the aluminium minerals gibbsite (Al(OH)3), boehmite (γ-AlO(OH)) and diaspore (α-AlO(OH)), mixed with the two iron oxides goethite (FeO(OH)) and haematite (Fe2O3), the aluminium clay mineral kaolinite (Al2Si2O5(OH)) and small amounts of anatase (TiO2) and ilmenite (FeTiO3 or FeO.TiO2).

Silicon dioxide, also known as silica, is an oxide of silicon with the chemical formula SiO2, most commonly found in nature as quartz and in various living organisms. In many parts of the world, silica is the major constituent of sand. Silica is one of the most complex and most abundant families of materials, existing as a compound of several minerals and as synthetic product. Notable examples include fused quartz, fumed silica, silica gel, and aerogels. It is used in structural materials, microelectronics (as an electrical insulator), and as components in the food and pharmaceutical industries.

Clay minerals are hydrous aluminium phyllosilicates, sometimes with variable amounts of iron, magnesium, alkali metals, alkaline earths, and other cations found on or near some planetary surfaces.

Dickite is a phyllosilicate clay mineral named after the metallurgical chemist Allan Brugh Dick, who first described it. It is chemically composed of 20.90% aluminium, 21.76% silicon, 1.56% hydrogen and 55.78% oxygen. It has the same composition as kaolinite, nacrite, and halloysite, but with a different crystal structure (polymorph). Dickite sometimes contains impurities such as titanium, iron, magnesium, calcium, sodium and potassium.

Illite is a group of closely related non-expanding clay minerals. Illite is a secondary mineral precipitate, and an example of a phyllosilicate, or layered alumino-silicate. Its structure is a 2:1 sandwich of silica tetrahedron (T) – alumina octahedron (O) – silica tetrahedron (T) layers. The space between this T-O-T sequence of layers is occupied by poorly hydrated potassium cations which are responsible for the absence of swelling. Structurally, illite is quite similar to muscovite with slightly more silicon, magnesium, iron, and water and slightly less tetrahedral aluminium and interlayer potassium. The chemical formula is given as (Al,Mg,Fe)
2
(Si,Al)
4
O
10
[(OH)
2
,(H
2
O)], but there is considerable ion (isomorphic) substitution. It occurs as aggregates of small monoclinic grey to white crystals. Due to the small size, positive identification usually requires x-ray diffraction or SEM-EDS analysis. Illite occurs as an altered product of muscovite and feldspar in weathering and hydrothermal environments; it may be a component of sericite. It is common in sediments, soils, and argillaceous sedimentary rocks as well as in some low grade metamorphic rocks. The iron rich member of the illite group, glauconite, in sediments can be differentiated by x-ray analysis.

Orthosilicic acid is a chemical compound with formula Si(OH)
4
. It has been synthesized using non-aqueous solutions. It is assumed to be present when silicon dioxide (silica) SiO
2
dissolves in water at a millimolar concentration level.

Halloysite is an aluminosilicate clay mineral with the empirical formula Al2Si2O5(OH)4. Its main constituents are aluminium (20.90%), silicon (21.76%) and hydrogen (1.56%). Halloysite typically forms by hydrothermal alteration of alumino-silicate minerals. It can occur intermixed with dickite, kaolinite, montmorillonite and other clay minerals. X-ray diffraction studies are required for positive identification. It was first described in 1826 and named after the Belgian geologist Omalius d'Halloy.

Allophane is an amorphous to poorly crystalline hydrous aluminium silicate clay mineraloid. Its chemical formula is Al2O3·(SiO2)1.3-2·(2.5-3)H2O. Since it has short-range atomic order, it is a mineraloid, rather than a mineral, and can be identified by its distinctive infrared spectrum and its X-ray diffraction pattern. It was first described in 1816 in Gräfenthal, Thuringia, Germany. Allophane is a weathering or hydrothermal alteration product of volcanic glass and feldspars and sometimes has a composition similar to kaolinite but generally has a molar ratio of Al:Si = 2. It typically forms under mildly acidic to neutral pH (5–7). Its structure has been debated, but it is similar to clay minerals and is composed of curved alumina octahedral and silica tetrahedral layers. Transmission electron micrographs show that it is generally made up of aggregates of hollow spherules ~3–5 nm in diameter. Allophane can alter to form halloysite under resilicating aqueous conditions and can alter to form gibbsite under desilicating conditions. A copper containing variety cupro-allophane has been reported.

Aluminium silicate (or aluminum silicate) is a name commonly applied to chemical compounds which are derived from aluminium oxide, Al2O3 and silicon dioxide, SiO2 which may be anhydrous or hydrated, naturally occurring as minerals or synthetic. Their chemical formulae are often expressed as xAl2O3.ySiO2.zH2O. It is known as E number E559.

Aluminosilicate minerals are minerals composed of aluminium, silicon, and oxygen, plus countercations. They are a major component of kaolin and other clay minerals.

The Kaolin deposits of the Charentes Basin in France are clay deposits formed sedimentarily and then confined by other geological structures.

Geopolymers are inorganic, typically ceramic, materials that form long-range, covalently bonded, non-crystalline (amorphous) networks. Obsidian fragments are a component of some geopolymer blends. Commercially produced geopolymers may be used for fire- and heat-resistant coatings and adhesives, medicinal applications, high-temperature ceramics, new binders for fire-resistant fiber composites, toxic and radioactive waste encapsulation and new cements for concrete. The properties and uses of geopolymers are being explored in many scientific and industrial disciplines: modern inorganic chemistry, physical chemistry, colloid chemistry, mineralogy, geology, and in other types of engineering process technologies. Geopolymers are part of polymer science, chemistry and technology that forms one of the major areas of materials science. Polymers are either organic material, i.e. carbon-based, or inorganic polymer, for example silicon-based. The organic polymers comprise the classes of natural polymers, synthetic organic polymers and natural biopolymers. Raw materials used in the synthesis of silicon-based polymers are mainly rock-forming minerals of geological origin, hence the name: geopolymer. Joseph Davidovits coined the term in 1978 and created the non profit French scientific institution Institut Géopolymère.

The alkali–silica reaction (ASR), more commonly known as "concrete cancer", is a swelling reaction that occurs over time in concrete between the highly alkaline cement paste and the reactive non-crystalline (amorphous) silica found in many common aggregates, given sufficient moisture.

Precipitated silica is an amorphous form of silica (silicon dioxide, SiO2); it is a white, powdery material. Precipitated silica is produced by precipitation from a solution containing silicate salts.

The pozzolanic activity is a measure for the degree of reaction over time or the reaction rate between a pozzolan and Ca2+ or calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2) in the presence of water. The rate of the pozzolanic reaction is dependent on the intrinsic characteristics of the pozzolan such as the specific surface area, the chemical composition and the active phase content.

Mineral alteration refers to the various natural processes that alter a mineral's chemical composition or crystallography.

Reverse weathering generally refers to the formation of a clay neoformation that utilizes cations and alkalinity in a process unrelated to the weathering of silicates. More specifically reverse weathering refers to the formation of authigenic clay minerals from the reaction of 1) biogenic silica with aqueous cations or cation bearing oxides or 2) cation poor precursor clays with dissolved cations or cation bearing oxides.

The silica cycle is the biogeochemical cycle in which silica is transported between the Earth's systems. Opal silica (SiO2) is a chemical compound of silicon, and is also called silicon dioxide. Silicon is considered a bioessential element and is one of the most abundant elements on Earth. The silica cycle has significant overlap with the carbon cycle (see Carbonate-Silicate cycle) and plays an important role in the sequestration of carbon through continental weathering, biogenic export and burial as oozes on geologic timescales.

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